Microsoft on Wednesday launched a new mobile app powered by Windows Azure called HelpBridge that lets you both ask for help after a natural disaster, as well as offer to give it. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the launch is an excellent initiative to rally everyone around one cause: supporting each other during a time of need.
You can download the app right now from the Google Play Store, the Apple App Store, and the Windows Phone Store. Unfortunately, it’s only available in the US right now, but hopefully Microsoft will be expanding regional support soon.
Here’s a quick demo of HelpBridge on Windows Phone 8, but again as we already mentioned it’s also available on Android and iOS:
The video doesn’t exactly detail this, but the app lets you assemble a list of friends and family members who you’d want to notify in an emergency or natural disaster. On your command, HelpBridge will then quickly send multiple messages simultaneously (over email and text) to let people know you’re safe or require aid.
It can also post an emergency message on your Facebook Timeline, and you can even choose to provide your precise location via your phone’s GPS signal in any of these. Given Twitter’s popularity in situations like this, we’re surprised Microsoft didn’t include the service. Facebook makes sense: it’s the largest social network in the world and Microsoft has a close relationship with the company. Not including Twitter, however, is something we think should be amended in the next release.
That’s the request aid part. The giving section of the app, for support relief and recovery, is a bit more complex. You can offer your money, goods, or your time. Cash can be donated over PayPal and supplies can be sent in directly to organizations including the American Red Cross, CARE, and Global Giving. As for time, HelpBridge shows you real-time volunteering opportunities posted by relief agencies both locally and nationwide.
Whether you’re in an area often hit by natural disasters or not, this is an app worth a download.
Image credit: Angela Jeu